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Wear The Gown: Why men should get screened for prostate cancer early

When caught early, prostate cancer is very treatable

SAN ANTONIO — September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and in this edition of Wear the Gown we're examining the importance of getting screened to catch the disease early.

The number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer is rising, partially because increased lifespans are resulting in a bigger population of older-aged individuals. 

But advancements in technology are also resulting in more diagnoses. 

"With some of the newer screening tests and whatnot, we've got a better chance of catching prostate cancer early," said Dr. Christien Kluwe, an assistant professor of radiation oncology at Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center. He also said, "So we're identifying more men with prostate cancer as well."  

Kluwe said many men may not recognize the signs of the disease. 

"With prostate cancer, a lot of the signs and symptoms will seem familiar to men as they get older in general anyways," he added. 

Some of the other signs of prostate cancer are frequent urination, especially at night, blood in urine, pain or burning during urination, and pain in the back, hips or pelvis that doesn't go away. 

"If guys are developing new onset pain in the back or hips or ribs that seems a little bit out of the norm, what they're typically seeing from something like arthritis," Kluwe said. 

So when should you get screened? Kluwe says most men should get a baseline PSA test between the ages of 45 and 50, and then another every two to four years to see if they may be developing symptoms suggesting the disease. 

For men in a high-risk group, like Black men and those with a family history of the disease, they should get a baseline test at the age of 40. 

"When we've identified somebody at a higher risk, that's where we go on these more invasive diagnostic tests—looking at getting an MRI, possibly doing an ultrasound, and maybe even doing a biopsy of the prostate as well."  

Kluwe also says men with prostate cancer typically do well with treatment. The earlier the disease is caught, the better. 

For more information about family health, call 210-358-3045. You can also find the rest of our Wear the Gown stories here


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